Let’s start with the obvious — Sister Jean is awesome.
This is not in doubt. She’s a fantastic character, a seemingly wonderful and charming person. She’s a fantastic story. She gives this Final Four a little bit of energy, a little juice. She gives Loyola-Chicago a storyline beyond being just an 11-seeded underdog. It’s a really fun story.
But if I were an editor, I would not have wanted my reporters or columnist at her press conference today. If my students were covering the Final Four, I would have advised them to skip her press conference.
Look at these photos:
The left is Sister Jean’s press conference. The room was full 15 minutes early. Reportedly, the crowd was out the door and into the hallway.
What is the point of being in that room?
From what I've read on Twitter, the two sessions did not overlap. Sister Jean's press conference came before the players' press conference. And while that's an important thing to remember, I think my larger point still stands.
What is the point of being in that first room?
That’s a serious question. What are you doing there? What kind of reporting are you able to do crammed shoulder to shoulder with every other reporter at the Final Four? What story are you getting that no one else is? What you are going to be able to write that makes you stand out from the crowd in that room.
This is the value of zagging.
When everyone else zigs, it can be really valuable to zag. To go the other direction. To go to the room where there are only a few reporters. If you’re the room on the right, with the players, you have a better chance of finding a good story. Something no one else is writing about. You can always get Sister Jean’s quotes from a quote sheet and write something up. You can always catch up to the pack, but you will never find anything interesting if you never stray from it.
I get it - if your editor assigned you a story on Sister Jean, you do what you have to do.
But it's worth keeping in mind that if when you are in a room with every other reporter at an event, you're not going to get a great story.
You're not going to stand out.
Be the columnist/writer who stands out